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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. This is my first post here. My hedgehog Sophie has been having health problems, and I wanted to compare notes with other hedgehog owners. She's about three years old, and other than sore gums and tooth problems, hasn't had any health problems before this. She's never had any babies and there have been no changes to her environment or diet.

In late April, I noticed she was having trouble getting to her feet, but walking okay. A week later, she was having more trouble. She'd walk for a bit, then her back legs would give out and she'd half-fall over and struggle to get her hind legs under her. I took her to the vet, and there were no obvious causes for her symptoms. No injuries, no inner ear infection, and her x-rays were clean except for possible mild, early arthritis. She did have decreased sensation in her hind legs (not pulling away when the vet pinched her feet, even though she'd start to curl up when her front feet were touched). The vet prescribed an anti-inflammatory, in case there was a pinched nerve, but that didn't help. Since then, Sophie has gotten worse. She can't get to her feet without help. If her right side is supported she can walk, but her back legs drag a little. She does have full movement of her back legs, but very little strength. She always falls to the right, and when she's walking she tends to turn right. She scoots along on her side now, kicking her feet, and she manages to travel fairly well, if not quickly or in straight lines, around her cage, but she's rubbing her side raw. The skin is very pink, and she's loosing hair and quills in the area. No open sores that I've seen, but I suspect she'll have some soon.

Three weeks ago, I noticed blood on her liners, in the middle of the urine stains. Back to the vet. The vet didn't extract urine, but she palpitated Sophie's belly (it took a few tries to convince Sophie to stay uncurled for this) and felt no lumps, and Sophie, while clearly unhappy, didn't seem to be in pain. The vet also pulled out the x-rays and looked more closely at the uterus and bladder, but saw nothing wrong there. She prescribed an antibiotic, and that did seem to help, but while there's less blood, there's still some, and Sophie's finished the course of it now. I'm going to call tomorrow for another appointment, and I guess have the vet extract and test some urine, and maybe get another set of x-rays to see if anything new has developed.

So, thoughts, ideas? Could there be a connection between her trouble walking and the bloody urine (I've started wiping her down with baby wipes every night, since I thought an infection may have been caused by her not moving away after she'd peed)? Is WHS a likely diagnosis? Sophie doesn't have a head tilt, which I've seen pop up in some other discussions, but I don't know if that's common or not. Is there anything I can do to help her side from getting sore when she scoots along?

Thanks for any help.
 

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This will not be a very popular answer, but I for one would probably end my little ones suffering. It sounds as if she has no quality of life if she cant walk and is rubbing herself raw trying to move about. I would say WHS is the most likely culprit. I know this will be a hard decision to make, but I hope in the end you will decide what is best for your hedgie. We as humans tend to be a little selfish and sometimes make our pets hang on for far longer than they should. I do not envy your position in the least, but I would hope that if I were in that position that i would be able to put aside my own feelings and help her cross the bridge and end her suffering...My thought and prayers go out to you and your little one.

Chad
 

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I'm very sorry about your little girl :( Unfortunately, with all the things your vet has ruled out, WHS is very highly likely the cause of your little one's distress.

That being said you sound like the kind of owner who wants to absolutely rule out other curable options before accepting this fate for your little one. So I'll give it a shot. Unfortunately I don't know a whole lot about hedgehog medicine, however I do know quite a fair bit about similar conditions in dogs and cats and have dealt with a whole lot at the vet clinic I work at. So here is my advice:

Is your vet a hedgehog specialist? If not I would consider signing out your x-rays (vet clinics allow you to do this) and taking them to a hedgehog specialist, or at the very least an x-ray specialist. Maybe your hedgie has torn a ligament? In dogs, there is a ligament called the cruciate, which causes mobility problems, perhaps there is a similar condition in hedgies? That being said, WHS is most likely the culprit and unfortunately there's not a lot to be done except try your best to make little sophie comfortable. :(

As far as the bloody urine goes, blood in the urine is usually the result of crystals/stones. What the crystals/stones do is they tear the wall of the urethra, causing infections (which your antibiotics *should* have cleared up) and bleeding. However you *should* be able to see these on an x-ray, depending on the size of them. The problem with crystals is that there are three kinds (at least there are three kinds in cats, that are caused by cat food and I assume hedgies are susceptible to these also).

#1 and #2 = struvite crystals and uroliths. These are caused by too many minerals in the food and basically just plain old crappy cat food. What is your hedgie eating? If it is Friskeys, Whiskas, Fancy Feast or any grocery store brand food I almost guarentee you it's crystals. Although even with decent brands of pet food cats can still get crystals and I'm sure that means hedgies can too. The good things about these crystals is that they are dissolvable with special cat foods....the only thing is I don't know if these are safe for hedgies :?

#3= calcium oxalate. These are the bad ones. They are non-dissolvable and require surgical removal, if they are not all passed naturally (which is incredibly painful). If your hedgie has these, which are actually more so stones than crystals, as well as WHS I hate to say it but maybe dorasdaddy is right. Anaesthetic is not the greatest to begin with in small animals (isofluorene is the safest) and risks increase with age. A 3 year old hedgehog is probably equivalent to a 10 year dog or 15 year old cat, both of which we try to avoid putting under all together.

The main thing which I tell any pet owner is that it's quality of life that counts. Yes we love our animals to pieces and would do anything for them, but we have to stop and ask ourselves, are we doing it for them....or for us? That being said, by all means if you have the funds and the will, exhaust all other curable options, but you also gotta know when it's okay to let go.

I wish you the best of luck, and I'm sure some other more experienced hedgie owners can give you some more advice and I hope that little Sophie does get better. I know it must be tough, hedgehogs can bring so much joy to your life, but sometimes the best gift we can give them in return is a comfortable last few days, a few extra mealies, and the hopes of sending them to a better place.
 

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Xrays don't always show everything and the speed with which tumours can grow there may have been nothing there when the xrays were taken.

What antibiotic is she in for the bleeding? Perhaps try something different although the only way to find out for certain if the bleeding is urinary or uterine is to have her gassed and using a needle, pull some urine directly from her bladder. If there is blood and bacteria, you will know it's a urinary issue.

Illness can cause mobility issues but the fact that she had the mobility issues before showing the blood would lead me to believe they aren't related. Most of the time, illness related mobility issues presents as being weak all over and dragging their back end. Typically, tipping over and struggling to get up or not being able to right themselves doesn't happen quite the same way like it does with WHS and other neurological issues.

It sounds to me like she has WHS or something else neurological with the bleeding as a secondary issue. If the bleeding is uterine, I would love her for a few days and then help her cross. Bleeding is only going to make her weaker and you don't want her to start to suffer. If the bleeding is urinary, then a different antibiotic should cure it. When to say goodbye to her with the WHS is very difficult. They always seem so happy even though they are so immobilized. I always vowed after Cinder died from WHS that I would never allow another one to go as long but I did the same thing with Freckles although we feel he had a tumour rather than WHS because at the end, he could still quill up and lower his visor which WHS hogs cannot.

Hugs
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
She was on Clavamox for the bleeding. The vet considered three different antibiotics. I don't remember why she chose Clavamox or what the other two were, but I'm pretty sure she said it was not the most powerful of the options.

Nancy said:
When to say goodbye to her with the WHS is very difficult. They always seem so happy even though they are so immobilized.
Yeah, I've been running into that internal debate plenty. She seemed a little better after she started the antibiotic--moving more, even if it wasn't easy for her to do. She's climbs on my hands and arms happily enough, and every night manages to move from one cage to the far end of the other before bedding down for the day, even though everything is set up for her to eat and sleep in one cage. Other than frustration at not being able to immediately scurry back under her fleece when I uncover her, I don't see any signs of distress, and her front legs are still plenty strong. I don't want her to suffer, but it's hard to judge if she's suffering at all, or just annoyed that her back legs aren't cooperating.

I'll take her to the vet again and see if we can't find the cause of the bleeding, and decide from there.
 

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Clavamox is a good first choice and often works fine. It is generally well liked by hedgehogs and it doesn't have the side effects that the stronger drugs have. It is usually the first choice for my vet as well and it usually is all that is needed, but not always.

How much is she bleeding? Is her urine a slight pink tinge or is it red? You can also try a urinary health food. Long storey short, but my Kei had random blood in her urine, we ended up spaying her and the blood continued. It was finally cured by putting her on Hill's C/D. One can and the bleeding was gone and never returned yet she had been on clavamox as well as baytril and continued bleeding. The food is certainly worth a try and won't hurt her if the bleeding isn't urinary related.

If they bleed too much, it can cause anemia and will make them weaker so if her bleeding is slowing down, she may have more energy.

Because of her probably WHS, a spay would not be a sensible option should this prove to be uterine, but getting a UTI cleared up would certainly help her feel better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We're back from the vet. Trace amounts of blood in the urine, but we're waiting on the analysis to see if it's really blood in the urine or just from being poked with a needle. The vet sent me home with Hill's C/D anyway, since it won't hurt.

How much of the Hill's should I give her? Usually with wet cat food, I give her a little plus her usual kibble, but I'm not sure if this should be a supplement with her regular food or her dinner instead of kibble.
 
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